**This post contains affiliate links. It means if you purchase through a link enclosed, I will earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting me in my writing endeavors!**
A couple weeks ago, I referenced an article about how I planned to “Advent Like a Boss.” The closer our family and community comes to Advent, however, I realized there are more things leading me to being more intentional about Advent as a season to live in, not rush through, this year. For perhaps the first time ever, my Christmas trees are still boxed up the week after Thanksgiving, and the focus in the home has been on figuring out ways to celebrate Advent, rather than preparing to celebrate the singular Christmas Day.
The first Sunday of Advent is this weekend. And, in the Catholic Community, it means it is the “New Year.” We switch from the Lectionary Cycle B to Lectionary Cycle C, which means the readings in Mass change for this next year. The messages are still the same, but it’s the completion of reading the entirety of the Bible if you have gone to Mass daily for the past two years. (Little known fact: if you go to Mass daily for three years, you will have heard the entirety of the Bible at Mass…)
This year, I am approaching Advent in a more intentional manner, focused on growing closer to Christ, rather than doing a mad dash for the last minute sales. However, with my new job, I am also stressed – for time, for patience, for ideas. Enter the following ways I am going to be taking time to focus on Advent:
Until I Rest in You:
A Mass Journal for Catholic Moms
by Ginny Kochis
I was provided a copy of this particular Mass journal for free, in exchange for an honest review. And, I already wrote a micro-blog post about how it arrived precisely at the time I needed it most. On the heels of putting down our most beloved German Shepherd, preparing for a family trip, and continuing to gear up for an Advent season at work, my soul was crushed.
Upon opening the package, I breathed. The book is exquisite, and the readings and reflections for this particular Mass journal begin with the kickoff of Advent this upcoming weekend! So, please know you still have time to purchase this journal and receive it for the first Sunday of Advent! But, if you put it off a week, the last entry is for the week of 24 February. So, there is still plenty of time to use this… and, for husbands, this may make a stellar Christmas present for your wife.
Perhaps what I appreciated most, as I flipped through the pages, was the attention to detail built in every week. At the outset of the week, Ginny has compiled a list of Feast Days for that particular week of time; for example, there is a page devoted to reminding readers that “The Week of December 2, 2018,” holds the feast days of: December 3 – St. Francis Xavier, December 4 – St. John Damascene, December 6 – St. Nicholas, December 7 – St. Ambrose, and December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception. As a busy mom, preparing for Advent, and encouraging families in my religious education department to do the same, it was nice to be reminded of how soon (but not too soon) St. Nicholas sneaks up on us this year… and, the reminder of the Holy Day of Obligation we know as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (celebrating and honoring Mary’s Immaculate Conception, not the conception of our Lord).
Throughout the Mass journal, there are also quotes pertinent to lifting and supporting the weary mama’s soul in her vocation – from St. Nicholas himself, to St. Thomas a Becket, to St. Agatha, and many other holy men and women! Each Sunday Mass has the Mass readings, along with sections to journal about prayer, consideration, reflection, listening to the stillness of God’s whispers in our heart, leading, and serving our families and God. I’m not someone who likes to journal, but it was convenient to have those tangible prompts right in the book, especially as I try to grow closer to Christ by being a more intentional in my role and interactions with family as a wife and mother.
While Ginny wrote this for moms to be used at Mass, I was surprised at how I plan to use this particular journal. In Mass, I am usually child-wrangling and trying to ensure my oldest (6) focuses on the Consecration, and the prayers, and just facing the front of the chapel. I’m doing this by using The Mass Box this Advent, which leaves me little time to use the journal for myself during Mass. Nine times out of ten, I leave Mass at the end of the weekend with my head swirling, trying to remember just one iota of something I might have heard… wondering if I heard the message correctly, if I heard it at all.
Therefore, I plan to use this Mass journal outside of Mass. I haven’t decided if I will use it the weekend prior to the Mass – as a spiritual preparation leading into Mass, or during the week after the Mass – as a refresher course for what I may have heard over the weekend.
Given the components of “Consider,” “Lead,” “Contemplate,” “Pray,” “Listen,” “Serve,” I am leaning more using it in the week after Mass, to afford me the opportunity to correct the harried course of action of a frazzled mama as I blaze through the week. I am certain the book will provide me with a small oasis of encouragement and comfort, as well as a gentle reminder to remember my primary vocation of being a wife, and secondary vocation of being a mother, in the midst of the season of preparation.
This particular journal is worth the $15 investment, to help bolster and boost the spiritually weary, emotionally heavy, physically exhausted mama as she tries to ensure all those around her are also growing closer to Christ.
The second way I am planning to Advent Like a Boss actually involves my kids. They see me up to my eyeballs in all things Catholic, trying to figure out how to bring more faith-based and liturgical living into our home in a manner they can understand, but also doesn’t water down the meaning.
Enclosed in a convenient download, this packet is rich and heavy on family-friendly activities! Because I was running low on ink, I only printed off half the packet – the black and white pages that could focus my children on coloring. But, there are DIY saint prayer cards, there are toppers to print out for cupcakes or chocolate coins (here’s looking at you Feast of St. Nicholas), there are gift tags, and there is a beautifully compiled Advent calendar reminding families of the Sundays of Advent and the O Antiphons.
In black and white are the meat of this particular activity pack… the coloring sheets! My two year old instantly gravitated toward the sheets which contained the flames for the first two weeks of Advent.
In the evening that we spent going through this activity pack for this review, he learned about St. Lucy and had a morbid fascination with her depiction of eyeballs on a platter. While I knew she had her eyes removed, I couldn’t remember the entire story, so I found myself going back to learning more about her as my son contemplated coloring her. He decided against coloring that particular sheet, but that evening he did color St. Nicholas and a couple other saints.
At one point, I noticed the two oldest were coloring and chattering about their various thoughts on their projects, while the baby scooted around stealing and chomping on crayons, and I perused “Until I Rest in You,” addressed earlier in this post. And, I was extremely grateful for this particular activity pack because it has provided me with a great, family-friendly, kid-friendly set of activities to spark an Advent focus for the month of December.
At a price point of $5, I can’t say enough great things about the Advent Activity Pack! Since it’s a pdf download, directly from Aleesa’s Etsy shop, the activity pack also allows for repeated use. Or, if you are like me and run out of ink between clicking print and the first couple pages, you can easily go back at a later time and print more pages off as needed. This would also be a wise investment if grandparents may be hosting their grandchildren for playdates, or Christmas decorating during the Advent season. There are even coloring pages which draw adults and children toward the O Antiphons – something I was introduced to, and helped develop reflections for military families for the Military Council of Catholic Women – Worldwide, last Advent.
Finally, it wouldn’t be an “almost Advent kickoff” piece without adding I plan to “Advent Like a Boss” using my newly released Advent devotional, “Journey Through Advent: A Daily Advent Devotional for the Catholic Military Woman.” I previously wrote about what prompted me to write this particular devotional, and consider that a way that I plan to “Advent Like a Boss” – on a daily basis this Advent! You can simply purchase it by clicking the image at the bottom of this post, and still get it for the first day of Advent. However, the daily Reflections, Prayers, and Action Steps don’t actually build on each other, so if you miss a day here or there, or are a little late in starting the devotional, it’s okay. The purpose is to simply draw its reader – military affiliated, or completely civilian alike – into a deeper relationship with Christ this Advent! So, be sure to check it out, click the Prime shipping, and have it arrive on your doorstep in two days’ time!
I would love to hear from you, dear reader – how do you plan to “Advent Like a Boss,” and keep Christ in your foresight this Advent season? Be sure to let me know in the comments below.
And, as always, feel free to share this piece to help spread gift ideas to family, friends, or people you think will benefit from these product reviews!